The case of baby Alfie Evans was in the news yesterday (Friday 20th April 2018) with the judgment from the British Supreme court to support the hospital’s refusal to release Alfie to his parent’s so that they could transfer him to an alternative medical facility overseas. The basis of the parent’s legal defence for Alfie was that he was being held unlawfully captive by the hospital that no longer believes they can treat him but will not allow the parents to transfer him to facilities that want to continue treating him. The case seems to be Charlie Gard II that provoked worldwide interest. I was deeply upset about the Charlie Gard case and considered writing something then of what I felt it was saying about our culture. However, with Charlie dying that time passed but then Alfie arrived and I found myself motivated and passionate enough to give up my weekend to write the first draft. I address this article to both Brits as my country folk, to those in the US because a US doctor was happy to receive Charlie and to the EU because some of my fellow Europeans are happy to receive Alfie with Italy even bestowing citizenship on him. However, I also offer it beyond simply because there was so much international interest and activity around this case (the good, the bad and the ugly).
My first point I make is that I believe the Charlie Gard case was a watershed moment in all sorts of ways, both ethically, morally and legally. It marked an ethical collapse. As evidence for this assertion I will refer you to the work of Professor Savulescu and Professor Singer who during the Charlie Gard case very simply and clearly illumined the issues from what they believe was a purely secular perspective. In brief, Savulescu demonstrates that in Charlie’s case there was absolutely no justification for the treatment of the parents or of Charlie on medical or ethical grounds. His post-mortem and recommendations for the future were published in the principle medical journal The Lancet here [1A, 1B] and he has informed me he is currently writing a book on this case. Now I am not claiming that my views are the same as his or that he endorses what I write here other than I asked him to review what I wrote about my understanding of what he said . This was because I do not have any expertise in the medical ethics field and the purpose of my article is not directly to dissect the medical ethics. All I do want to say that his work and Professor Singer’s emphatically make the case that something is seriously and fundamentally wrong about the treatment of the parents and the sick babies Charlie and Alfie in these cases. He agreed that I was exactly right on that point for which I breathed a huge sigh of relief.